Attorneys tell me all the time, “Nora, I’m no good at marketing. I’m just not a natural marketer. I don’t like talking about myself.” I tell them, “Phooey! You can learn to be a natural marketer.” Before we go any further, let’s define marketing. According to the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Whew. That’s a mouthful. Here’s a simpler way to say it: Marketing is about knowing what you do, knowing who your ideal clients are, and building relationships that get those clients knocking on your door.
So you’re thinking, “Of course, I know what I do. I’m a lawyer. And a fine one, at that.” OK, but being a lawyer is part of who you are, not what you “do.” As a lawyer, you guide people through some of the most difficult and challenging times of their lives. Maybe you help them survive the break-up of a marriage or a business. Maybe you help them find a way to survive after an injury leaves them unable to work or they’ve been illegally fired from a job. Knowing what you “do,” and how you help people is critical to marketing your services. It might be difficult for you to talk about yourself, but you should be able to speak with passion about what you do for your clients.
Next you need to know who your ideal clients are. When you know who your ideal clients are, then you can begin to develop relationships with those people that surround your ideal clients. Let’s say, you’re a family law attorney, and your ideal clients are professional people with a high net worth. Who are those types of people surrounded by? How about starting with financial planners, investment bankers, and business law attorneys? Once you know who your ideal clients are and the types of people they are surrounded by, then you can get to work building relationships with the right people.
Finally, you need to build real relationships that create great referrals for you. The focus here is on “real relationships,” not relationships just for the purpose of getting referrals, but relationships out of which great referrals grow. In my example above, I mentioned business law attorneys as great referral source for a family law attorney. There are a lot of business law attorneys out there. But you’re not going to build relationships with all of them. You’re going to meet as many business law attorneys as you can, and then, you’re going to build relationships with the one, or two or three that you really hit it off with. You’re going to build real relationships with people you like, and you’re going to get to know them and trust them. And they’re going to get to know, like and trust you. You’re going to become a great referral source for them, and they for you. It’s a beautiful thing!